Letters, Summer 2013

Letters, Summer 2013

Readers respond to the Spring 2013 issue.


Leaving '25'

I am shocked to read that the UUA Board of Trustees is planning to sell 25 Beacon Street (“Farewell, 25 Beacon St.?” by Richard Higgins, Spring 2013). Surely we can be modern in our movement without selling this beautiful building of our past. Surely local preservationists can assist with its adaptive reuse.

I am a member of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Savannah, Georgia, where we take great pride in having returned to our 1851 original home after 138 years. Our building and beautiful location in the Landmark Historic District add a wonderful connection to the past even as we plan for a better future.

Please try harder to be creative to build a dream headquarters of the future somewhere else without releasing this gem of the past.

Ardis Wood
Savannah, Georgia
UU Church of Savannah

What’s left of our heritage once it’s gone? I can’t image we’d have our teenagers tour the UUA headquarters once it’s just another office building. Once it sold, we’d be like poor relations wondering why our ancestors sold the family brownstone to move to a new McMansion.

Maureen McDonald
Crossroads, Texas
Denton UU Fellowship and First Unitarian Church of Dallas

Our congregation faced this exact same dilemma with our grand old church building back in 2007. It is like reading in print all the impassioned conversations that were held at board, congregational, and person-to-person meetings among us in those days.

After much soul- and bank-account-searching, and with phenomenal outputs of effort from many people, we voted, not unanimously, to sell the building and move. Ultimately I believe it came down to our mission in the world: It’s not about historic preservation. It is about social justice.

Sandra Kosek-Sills
Maumee, Ohio
First Unitarian Church of Toledo

Upon hearing about the UUA’s financial bind in a November 1987 Ohio Valley District Board meeting, I made the whimsical suggestion that we sell all the multimillion-dollar buildings in Boston and relocate the UUA to Indianapolis, where real estate costs are reasonable. To my surprise the Ohio Valley District Board took my idea seriously, and proceeded to propose a business resolution to submit to the 1988 General Assembly. It did not make it to the final agenda, however.

New members join our congregations because they have been inspired by great ministers, not because we own some of the most expensive real estate in America. While this attempt failed in 1988, I’m glad to see that it is an idea whose time has come!

Mary Branson
Indianapolis, Indiana
All Souls Unitarian Church

The use of the funds from the sale of 25 Beacon Street in one of the nation’s most expensive real estate markets needs to be reconsidered. Congregations all over the country contributed to maintain and purchase those buildings. They should benefit.

To distribute this one-time gain more equitably and effectively, I would propose that the proceeds be used four ways: 1. Make our field offices permanent. Allocate $3–$5 million for permanent land and buildings for six regional offices. With no rent to pay, 100 percent of all donations can be used for church support and membership growth. 2. Strengthen our retreat centers. These centers play a key community-building role for core members. 3. Modernize our online presence. We need a more powerful social media presence to reach our youth and young adults. 4. Purchase a less expensive headquarters. Invest in areas outside of Boston, where the real estate will be much less expensive.

Gordon O’Hara
Grants Pass, Oregon
Unitarian Universalists of Grants Pass

In 2011, I made a pilgrimage to Transylvania and was thrilled to see the plaque dedicated to the Edict of Torda. In 2012, I made a pilgrimage to 25 Beacon Street and was thrilled to see UUA headquarters and take the self-guided walking tour. Both times I felt I was celebrating the past. Someday there will be a plaque commemorating where UUA headquarters used to be, and we will talk about the reasons it was on Beacon Hill. UUism will continue to evolve with the times. If we didn’t, we would be celebrating communion four times a year and reading from the Bible every Sunday as Unitarians in Transylvania have done for hundreds of years. Let’s see what we can become by continuing to evolve.

Anne Larocca
Solana Beach, California
Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of San Dieguito

If we, the UUA, were independently wealthy, and episcopal instead of congregational, with a Vatican or a Temple Square, then I’d say keep 25 Beacon Street; acquire the properties we could on Beacon Street, Joy Street, Mount Vernon Street, and Bowdoin Street; and build a modern office complex in the same or similar style to preserve the appearance of the neighborhood.

But we’re not! We are congregational, and we have better things to do with our money than build and maintain historical buildings, which have outlived their usefulness.

John Adrian
Staten Island, New York
Unitarian Church of Staten Island
Posted on uuworld.org, March 11, 2013

Women's choices

As author of the 1982 UUA GA resolution on reproductive choice, religious liberty, and church-state separation, I applaud Darcy Baxter’s “What is Reproductive Justice?” (Spring 2013) and the UUA’s renewed emphasis on the matter. With the “war on women” continuing unabated, we UUs need to expand our efforts on this issue and even broaden these efforts to include their relationship to other issues such as climate change, global warming, environmental degradation, resource depletion, and overpopulation. The clock is ticking.

Edd Doerr
Silver Spring, Maryland
Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Rockville
President, Americans for Religious Liberty

As a mother of two adopted children, and a Unitarian Universalist of almost fifty years’ standing, I read your one-sided, shortsighted article about reproductive justice with a sense of rising fury.

My husband and I were very fortunate. We were able to adopt two beautiful children, born to young women not unlike the Melissa you mention in your article. These young women received counseling from people to consider adoption for their babies. Against all odds, my husband and I are now grandparents.

What if, in addition to telling Melissa about abortion, you had also mentioned adoption? What if you had allowed Melissa to make that choice herself—to consider giving her baby a life and allowing that baby to be brought up in the home of parents who desperately wanted her and would give her love and support for her entire life?

Isn’t that what reproductive justice really is? Isn’t it really the right for a woman to decide, one way or the other, how she will manage the result of her unexpected pregnancy? Is termination the only possibility? Surely not.

Virginia W. Hayes
Asheville, North Carolina
UU Congregation of Asheville

This article appeared in the Summer 2013 issue of UU World (pages 66–68). UU World welcomes letters to the editor. Send to “Letters,” UU World, 24 Farnsworth Street, Boston, MA 02210, or world@uua.org, but do not send attachments. Include your name, address, daytime phone number, and congregation on all correspondence. Published letters with author’s name, city, and state will appear on www.uuworld.org. Letters are edited for length and style; a maximum length of 200 words is suggested. We regret we cannot publish or respond to all letters.

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